Engel Opening Remarks at Iran Hearing
- As Delivered -
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement at the full Committee hearing, Iran on Notice:
“Well thank you, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And let me also thank our witnesses, and welcome all of you to the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“At this point, we all know Iran’s record of provocative actions, from ballistic missile tests to transferring weapons to terrorist organizations and other bad actors that seek to destabilize the region. Technically speaking, all this bad behavior doesn’t violate the nuclear deal. However, those actions are inconsistent with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which governs the implementation of the agreement. Responsible governments around the world have an obligation to respond.
“The Trump Administration imposed new sanctions against several entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. And just to make sure we’re all being fair, I’ll mention that these designations matched exactly the Obama Administration’s response over the last several years since negotiations began.
“The difference between the Trump Administration’s response and the Obama Administration’s response was a two-word phrase: ‘on notice.’ Then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn said that as a result of Iran’s provocative actions, the United States was putting Iran ‘on notice.’
“So what does it mean exactly to put ‘Iran on notice?’ How will the Administration respond if Iran tests the President again? Does the Administration have a plan?
“In a follow up briefing to the ‘on notice’ warning, a reporter asked what that meant. The response was: ‘We are considering what options there are, and how we want to communicate and enforce our concerns.’ That’s not really a plan. I hope that the Administration will make it clear what their plan is on Iran because surely, Iran will continue its provocative behavior.
“We cannot afford a half-baked or reckless foreign policy. Rash decisions concerning America’s role in the world could have serious consequences for American personnel and interests. American and Iranian forces are operating in close proximity in Iraq. Who knows what could happen if the Administration doesn’t have a cohesive policy?
“Additionally, if this turns out to be an empty threat, then this Administration will not have done its job. We have to really confront the Iranian threat and let them know that we’re serious about it, that we mean business. I don’t trust the Iranian government. I didn’t vote for the Iranian deal. But the Iranian deal is now in place, and I think we have to ensure that Iran lives up to every bit of its responsibility under that deal.
“Using—let me just say this: I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what a responsible course of action would be. Iran and the terrible regime in Tehran is not going away and I think that if the United States doesn’t stand up to it, it will only get worse.
“I believe with all my heart that everything must be done to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. However, looking the other way and just tough rhetoric doesn’t really cut the mustard. We’ve got to make sure that Iran understands that there are severe consequences if they continue on their ways and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses as to what they think our response should be. Thank you Mr. Chairman.”